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Dodgers name Walker Buehler opening day starter

First career opening day start for Buehler

MLB: Spring Training-Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Walker Buehler will start opening day for the Dodgers, manager Dave Roberts told reporters at Camelback Ranch on Thursday, making the first career opening day start for the Los Angeles ace.

The Dodgers start the regular season on the road against the Rockies at Coors Field on Friday, April 8, the second straight season they open the season in Denver.

Buehler has built a reputation as a big-game pitcher for the Dodgers in his young career, with a 2.94 ERA in 15 postseason starts. He’s been tabbed to start Game 1 of a playoff series five times already, and pitched scoreless baseball into the seventh in the Game 162 National League West tiebreaker against the Rockies in 2018.

This is the first Game 1 start for Buehler, the 27-year-old coming off his strongest major league season to date. The right-hander was 16-4 with a 2.47 ERA and 212 strikeouts, setting career highs in starts (33) and innings (207⅔). Buehler finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting.

Clayton Kershaw started opening day last year, his team-record ninth opening day nod. The only times he didn’t start on opening day in the last 11 years were due to injury. Hyun-jin Ryu filled in on the mound to start 2019, and Dustin May was the emergency opening day starter in 2020.

The last time the Dodgers chose a pitcher other than Kershaw to start on opening day was in 2010, when Vicente Padilla surprisingly took the mound in Pittsburgh.